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KAI / Airbus Helicopters Light Armed Helicopter (LAH) - South Korea, 2022

Detailing the development and operational history of the KAI / Airbus Helicopters Light Armed Helicopter (LAH) Gunship Platform / Medium-Lift Transport Helicopter.

 Entry last updated on 11/18/2017; Authored by Staff Writer; Content ¬©

  KAI / Airbus Helicopters Light Armed Helicopter (LAH)  
Picture of KAI / Airbus Helicopters Light Armed Helicopter (LAH)

The Light Armed Helicopter product is expected to succeed the aging stocks of MD500 and AH-1 Cobra attack helicopters for the South Korean military.

In an effort to upgrade its stock of aging McDonnell Douglas MD500 and Bell AH-1S Cobra light attack helicopters with one of local origin, KAI (Korean Aerospace Industries) was selected by the South Korean military to lead the charge for a new 5-ton class system. KAI has since partnered with French-based Airbus Helicopters to develop what is known as the "Light Armed Helicopter" (LAH) solution and will be based on the latter's H155 (formerly the Eurocopter EC155) platform. The LAH product will follow the Light Civilian Helicopter (LCH), which is also based on the H155 "Dauphin", that will enter the civilian market in 2020 while the LAH is expected to be in service for 2022. The LAH project is being headed by Korea's Agency for Defense Development (ADD) with involvement from the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) as well.

KAI and Airbus Helicopters have already combined engineering talents to product the new KAI KUH-1 "Surion" medium-lift helicopter (with Samsung Techwin engines) for South Korean Army and Marine forces. This product is based on the proven Eurocopter EC725 "Super Cougar" platform and several hundred of this model are already on order while deliveries having been ongoing since 2012. The KUH-1 was selected to replace the Bell UH-1H medium family as well as the MD 500 light series in the general utility role.

The LAH is expected to retain the same basic form and function as the Dauphin with the exception of wingstubs added along the lower fuselage sides offering up to four hardpoints for carrying rocket pods and gun pods. A powered chin turret is expected under the nose and engines will most likely be local developments once more. The French Dauphin enjoys a considerable reach on the global stage with some sixty operators and over 1,000 helicopters in service today (2015). It is easily recognized by its sleek design lines and Fenestron-protected tail rotor unit - the latter which reduces the risk of foreign bodies being ingested into the spinning blades and lowers operational noise, particularly over civilian areas. The main rotor will feature a five-bladed design fitted to a low-profile mast.

In June of 2016 it was announced that Safran Helicopter Engine's (Turbomeca) "Arriel 2" will power the new LAH. The Resulting Arriel 2L2 will be a joint effort between Safran and Hanwha Techwin. The Arriel 2C2 engine will be used to power a civlian market form of the helicopter.

KAI / Airbus Helicopters Light Armed Helicopter (LAH) Specifications

Service Year: 2022
Status: In-Development
Type: Gunship Platform / Medium-Lift Transport Helicopter
National Origin: South Korea
Manufacturer(s): Korean Aerospace Industries (KAI) - South Korea / Airbus Helicopters - France
Total Production: 0

Structural (Crew, Dimensions, Weights)

Operating Crew (Typical): 2
Overall Length: 46.92 feet (14.3 meters)
Overall Width: 39.37 feet (12.00 meters)
Overall Height: 14.27 feet (4.35 meters)

Weight (Empty): 5,776 lb (2,620 kg)
Weight (MTOW): 10,847 lb (4,920 kg)

Power / Performance (Engine Type, Top Speed)

Engine: 2 x Safran Helicopter Engines / Hanwha Techwin "Arriel 2" turboshaft engine developing 1,650 horsepower (estimated) while driving a five-bladed main rotor and Fenestron-shrouded tail rotor unit.

Maximum Speed: 175 knots (202 mph; 325 kph)
Maximum Range: 532 nautical miles (612 miles; 985 km)
Service Ceiling: 19,242 feet (5,865 meters; 3.64 miles)
Rate-of-Climb: 1,800 feet-per-minute (549 m/min)

Armament / Mission Payload

1 x 20mm cannon in powered chin turret under nose assembly.

Four underwing hardpoints for carrying rocket or gun pods as required.

Global Operators (Customers, Users)

South Korea (planned)

Model Variants

Light Armed Helicopter (LAH) - Base Project Name; product to be based on the Eurocopter EC155 model series.

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